Up the (Willow) Creek: Bill Hybels at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit


I’m at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit this week (Forest City Community Church here in London is one of the satellite locations), and I thought it’d be fun to share some nuggets from the summit with y’all. I don’t know if I’ll be writing about every session, but I will start with the first, featuring Bill Hybels.

Hybels is actually quite an engaging speaker. Very passionate and obviously loves the church. Say what you will about the whole seeker sensitive, smoke machine, laser light show scene he’s associated with, but he really cares about the health of the church and people meeting Jesus.

His talk centered around leading in the new reality—how do we navigate the waters of ministry after being slammed by the “rogue wave” of the recession. Great encouragement from Hybels: The recession gives the church the opportunity to truly be the church to each other and the community, what he calls “the Acts 2 dream.”

“There is nothing like the church when the church is working right. Nothing like it in the world!” exclaims Hybels (to which I say a hearty “Amen!”).

What I think Hybels brought to the table was something extremely important for leaders to be considering in engaging the new reality: Is my organization up to the task? And am I?

Hybels provides four questions that every leader should be asking of their organization:

  1. How many key seats are their in our organization—how many are crucial? 3? 5? 12?
  2. How many of those key seats are filled by the right people? People who are fully fired up about the mission and appropriately gifted?
  3. What are we doing to ensure that those seats are filled with the right people?
  4. How are we developing people to replace or succeed the people currently in those seats?

I can’t overstate the importance of these questions from Bill Hybels. If our churches, businesses and non-profits aren’t asking these questions, we need to start now. And more than that, we need to actually act on them, because there are few things more dangerous to the health of an organization than having the wrong person in an important role.

The next question he asked is equally important for leaders: What are leaders doing to replenish themselves?

In a moment of disclosure, Hybels confessed that 20 years ago, he realized that “the pace at which I’m doing the work of God is destroying the work God is doing in me.” He had let himself become consumed by the work of the ministry at the cost of his joy. By God’s grace, he has repented of that, although he admitted that recently he had noticed he’d been slipping into that same kind of work pace that had been so detrimental previously and has taken steps to curtail it.

In speaking of replenishment, Hybels asked the following questions:

  1. What is my replenishment strategy?
  2. Who do you need to be around more? Who energizes and invigorates you?
  3. Who do you need to be around less? Who steals your energy and joy?
  4. How do you start your day? Is the Word primary or do the distractions of life get in the way?

Personally, I found these questions incredibly helpful, because I really struggle with making sure I’m taking adequate time to rest and replenish spiritually and emotionally. But if I don’t, everything I do suffers.

Overall I found Bill Hybels’ talk both engaging and challenging, and, on occasion, even a little convicting. While I don’t necessarily agree with him on a few issues (like style), I greatly appreciate seeing and hearing his passion for the church and for people.

Because truly, I think we all need a little more of that.

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  • http://michaelkrahn.com/blog Michael Krahn

    Hey Aaron,

    I’m at Summit at FCCC as well. I’ll be on the far left side with my MacBook if you want to say hi.

    • http://hardwords.wordpress.com Aaron Armstrong

      I’ll be on the lookout for you – looking forward to saying “hi”.